Feeling Blue

I know I’ve been quiet the last two weeks.  I  realize that I don’t owe anyone any explanations, but I’ve been in a funk recently. I think it started last Tuesday.  We started telling close friends that we were pregnant with Isaac a bit after the 12-week mark.  On a cold day, we cuddled up on the couch with our 12-week ultrasound images and Facetimed our friends down in North Carolina.  With one particular set of friends, just after we showed them our pictures, they responded with their own.  They were expecting too and just two weeks behind us.  A bunch of our North Carolina friends ended up expecting Fall babies, but no one was due quite so close to Isaac.

Last Tuesday, our friends gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  I saw it on Facebook while I was laying in bed, and, at first, I was okay.  I was happy for them.  Then I started to worry about telling my husband.  Should I tell him?  I had recently told him that another friend of ours was pregnant, and he had told me that he didn’t want to know that.  I ended up waking him up to tell him.  Moments later, I was crying.  I am so happy for them.  It just hurts so much to see what we are missing out on.

The next day was even more difficult.  I woke up in a bad place and things just kept going wrong.  I had to challenge a contractor on the project I am managing, and I stressed for most of the day over how to do it. A package I was excited to receive that day got delayed.  Then the MFM we were supposed to meet with Friday called to say they couldn’t see us Friday and needed to reschedule even though my husband had reworked his whole week to be home Friday.  Then at the end of the day, in response to my questions, the contractor quit.  Every last one of those things ended up being resolved just fine, but I was a wreck on Wednesday.

We ended up getting to meet with the MFM on Thursday.  It went well.  They have a plan, part of which is getting my arthritis under control before attempting another pregnancy.  It seems there is some link between autoimmune diseases and preeclampsia.  They even got us an appointment with a rheumatologist in the same hospital for this week (I had tried independently and was told they couldn’t see me until next year).  I actually left the hospital smiling, because I felt so much hope.  Then, I saw another baby boy had been born to a sweet girl that I went to high school with.  I didn’t have any immediate reaction.  However, then I started thinking more about our new doctors and how seriously they take our care.  It made me realize how NOT seriously our care was taken during my pregnancy with Isaac.  Isaac deserved this care just as much as our future baby does, but he did not get it.

If the doctors had taken us more seriously and paid even half as much attention as they are now, we’d probably be cuddling Isaac instead of figuring out how to keep living after losing a lifetime with our baby boy.  It’s hard to see how easy it is for doctors to help us now when it is too late to save Isaac.

All of this stuff has made be feel a bit uninspired lately.  I’m not excited about my pottery class and I haven’t been able to come up with coherent blog posts.  It’s even resulted in me struggling to write the letters to Isaac in his journal. Times are tough, but I know that’s to be expected.  Hopefully, if I keep plowing forward day by day, things will get a bit more manageable.

You Have A Baby . . . in A Bar

I know that I am prone to depression.  Not just a bit of a funk, but the won’t get out of bed except for in emergencies (like bathroom breaks) type of depression.  Here I am faced with a tragic loss that could send even the strongest of individuals into a downward spiral.  If I do what I feel like doing right now, I know that I could quickly devolve into a pajama-wearing mess sitting in a pile of tissues, who requires some sort of professional intervention.  Recognizing this tendency, I have realized that I need to find things to keep myself busy – things that will get me out of my pajamas and out of the house.  I’ve mentioned previously that for obvious reasons it is EXTREMELY difficult to be around pregnant women and babies.  This means that nowhere was safe.  I go to the movies and a pregnant woman sits down next to me.  Malls are the stuff of nightmares.  The more people, the more likely I am to run into a pregnant woman or a new mom with a baby.

I started with baby steps.  I’d stop at a grocery store on my way home from grief therapy.   I’d go hang out with my mom at their pool next door.   Eventually, I decided I needed to find a baby free way to get out regularly.  A few weeks ago, I was in my old room at my parents’ house when I saw a small bowl I had made at a pottery class as a kid.  I remembered how much I loved and looked forward to that class.  I’ve always enjoyed a good craft or DIY project, so I looked up the place I’d gone to twenty years ago for a class.   Low and behold they had an adult pottery class beginning this past Monday.  My husband and parents encouraged me to sign up and I did.  It’s 3 hours every Monday morning until mid-December.  It seemed like a perfect fit.  It’s an adult class where I can meet people and learn something fun.

I went on Monday.  I was nervous.  Most outings make me nervous.  I knew the class was all levels and that there were likely to be people with loads of experience.  What if I was terrible at this particular craft?  I found the classroom and checked in.  The teacher is extremely nice.  A few minutes later, another student checked in.  We’ll call her “B” and she was instantly extremely nice.  I started to relax a bit as we waited for other students.  An administrator came in and let our teacher know that the afternoon class didn’t have enough people signed up and we would be getting a few extra students.  What happened next is almost funny in retrospect.  The teacher told us that we were waiting for a student who had a newborn baby.  No big deal.  I’d be jealous and keep a reasonable distance.  Nope.  The woman’s sister-in-law had already arrived and let us know that this woman couldn’t rearrange her babysitter and would be bringing the baby to class.  What!?!

I’d love to see what my face looked like at that moment.  I quickly and quietly warned the teacher and B of what I had recently been through.  I said that I would do my best, but that I didn’t know if I could handle three hours around a newborn baby.  Eventually the woman and baby showed up.  I did my best to ignore them.  However, every time the baby cried, I would flinch away from what I was working on.  I couldn’t help but eavesdrop as other artists oohed and ahhed over the precious little baby.  I couldn’t help but be jealous.  I want someone to ooh and ahh over my baby, but people don’t do that for babies who die.

I signed up for that class thinking this class would be a safe zone.  There wouldn’t be babies in a pottery studio.  Apparently, I was wrong.  Nowhere is safe!  Pottery studios are filled with silica dust and paint fumes.  While I don’t mean to sound like I’m passing some unfair judgment, I have no idea why someone would bring an infant into that environment.  To be clear, she didn’t do a whole lot of pottery work.  I’m also shocked that it isn’t a liability for the arts center to have an infant in a space like that.

For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about the scene in Sweet Home Alabama in which Reese Witherspoon’s character responds to an insult from a former classmate by pointing out that she has a baby in a bar.  babyinabar

I guess it’s that this mother had her baby in one of the last places I would expect and a place that I would never have brought my own baby.

I survived the class.  I even enjoyed parts of it (when the baby was out of sight and out of mind).  Fortunately, she isn’t planning to bring the baby in the future.  I went up to her at the end to explain my “situation” and to find out if I should switch classes.  To be honest, one of the hardest parts of the entire ordeal was that this mother didn’t even flinch or show any hint of empathy/sympathy as I told her I’d recently lost my son towards the end of my pregnancy.  I would have thought that a new mother would have some sort of reaction to what I was telling her.  I suppose everyone reacts in their own way to this sort of thing, and I can’t be sure what was going through her head.  Oh well.

There’s No Name for Us

I know I’ve slowed down considerably on the posts lately, but I’ve been taking the distraction approach to surviving this week that was supposed to mark Isaac’s much-awaited arrival.  It’s easy to find myself drowning in thoughts of what we should have been doing at any given moment in time.  I still look at my photos of Isaac daily, and I still find ways to talk about him and remember him.  I simply needed to divert my often obsessive mind a bit and be more present.  I’ve been helping my youngest sister get ready for college (while trying not to feel ancient in the process).  I’ve been re-setting up our desk so that I can keep on top of the office construction project I am managing.  I’ve been playing with our puppy and enjoying these lingering summer days to the best of my ability.  You know . . . life.  For some reason, it just keeps chugging forward.

My new reality in this post-Isaac world has had me thinking a lot about something my grief therapist said (sidenote: I will continue to recommend a grief specialist to anyone who loses their child).  At the end of my most recent appointment, she said, “When you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. When you lose your husband you are a widow. When you lose your wife you’re a widower.  But when you lose your child, there is no name for you, because the world can’t contemplate something so terribly out of the natural order.”  I know that the community of parents who have suffered through such a loss have come up with some obvious names.  I’ve seen loss mommies and bereaved parents.  One that makes me cringe a bit is childless parents. I suppose that’s exactly what we are at this point.  I feel like a parent and mother, but there just isn’t a baby to hold and love and nurture.  Regardless, there just isn’t an entry in the dictionary that begins to describe what my husband and I became that terrible day in July.

I guess it makes sense.  Everyone dreads it, but they realize that someday they will lose their parents.  Sadly, one spouse almost always leaves this world before the other.  These are the types of losses that we hear about or see first hand on a routine basis.  No one expects to lose their baby.  No one sees the extra line on the pregnancy test and thinks that they might give birth to a baby that will never cry.  In part, this is because we live in a world that just doesn’t talk about this stuff.  Maybe it’s time that changed.  There are roughly 23,600 stillbirths in the US alone every single year.  That means that 47,200 men and women become a part of this nameless club that we never asked to become a part of.  Maybe we should have a name.

A Difficult Week

Isaac’s due date was September 10, 2016.  I counted down the days, weeks and months until that date on a regular basis from the moment it was given to me at an initial ultrasound. Isaac was still the size of a chocolate chip.  When people would ask me, though, about my due date, I would say, “September 10th, but he’s likely to be induced the week before.”  I was on Lovenox, and to ensure that I would not have any blood thinners in my system when I gave birth our MFM recommended induction at 39 weeks.

Our OB went back and forth on whether or not he would follow that advice throughout my pregnancy, but at my last visit, he finally settled on induction at 39 weeks.  That would have been today.  I can’t help but think about what we would have been doing right now.  In fact, I wrote to Isaac last night about how I dreamed it would be today.  His nursery would have been perfect.  His bassinet would have been set up next to our bed.  We’d be nervous but terribly excited.

For the past week, I had been getting increasingly anxious about this day and the week that will follow.  September 10th will always be the date I counted down to and remember most distinctly, but today is the first time I should have been meeting our baby boy.  Instead, he sits in a painfully small red velvet bag on top of one of our dressers.  He’s been gone 7 weeks today.

There are a lot of things I wish I had planned for today, but I really could not get my act together.  I didn’t know how I would feel when I woke up today.  I don’t know how I will feel when I wake up on September 10th.  I wish I had planned the tree planting for one of these days, but I didn’t.

It’s hard not to reflect back on the whole journey now.  It seems like just yesterday it was January 3rd and I was trying to wake my husband up to tell him I thought I’d had a positive pregnancy test.  For some reason, the first half of this summer feels like a lifetime ago.  I wish I could say that I am feeling hopeful about our future right now, but I admittedly feel defeated.  I should have been introducing our son to the world, but instead I am wondering when, if ever, my husband and I will be able to bring a baby home with us.  Our home feels especially empty today.

Happy could have been birthday, Isaac.